Damon Cortesi's blog

Musings of an entrepreneur.

Disney Part 1 - MGM Studios

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Time to blog about my trip to Disney World!

So I went to Disney World on vacation back in October. Being a deprived child, I had never been to the most magical place on Earth before. I think it certainly lived up to that name. ;o) As they say, on with the show!

After a quick flight down to Orlando and a pretty cheap shuttle ride (thank you MEARS Shuttle Service), we arrived at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. When you walk in the front doors, the lobby itself is simply amazing. The detail you see in some of the beams is indicative of what Disney is all about - an amazing amount of attention to detail to ensure that you truly have a great experience. We didn’t get to the hotel until around 10pm, but nevertheless we found the pool pretty quickly. I didn’t get to go down the slide until the next day, but I must have gone down it nearly 100 times by check-out time…I love waterslides.

The first full day took us to Disney’s MGM Studios, competitor to Universal Studios and home to rides such as The Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (more on those later!). It was here, though, that I quickly adapted to the world of FastPass. Now gather ‘round and listen closely, for this may make your Disney experience just that much better. FastPass

FastPass is the method with which Disney has come up with in an attempt to alleviate long lines at the park. Certain high-volume rides in each park make use of the FastPass distribution. This allows you to take a ticket at a given ride that tells you to return to the ride within a specified time period. When you return and present your FastPass, you get to wait in a line that is significantly shorter than those who have chosen not to use FastPass. There is one catch, of course. You can only have a certain number of FastPass tickets at a time (usually one). What you can do, then, is get FastPass for a popular ride, go catch a less popular ride and maybe a quick bite to eat. By the time you are done, it’s time to return to your FastPass destination. It’s an excellent way to cut down on those long waits. Back to the rides.

The highlights of the day were the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the Tower of Terror. The Indy Stunt Show took actual scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and showed how the stunts were done. Pretty interesting to get a backstage look at that stuff.

Rock n Roller CoasterThe Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, like the infamous Space Mountain, is a roller coaster in the dark but with a little more loops and quick turns. The best part is probably the beginning where you are shot from 0-60 mph in about 3 seconds. The line goes right past the start, at which point most people kind of turn around and raise their eyes to the strangers around them, appropriately impressed.

Tower of TerrorBased on an old Twilight Zone episode, The Tower of Terror is one of Disney’s Big Thrills, which they’ve had to add in recent years to appease the short-attention-span MTV generation. The concept is pretty simple - board an elevator and shoots you up 13 stories…then back down…then up again….then maybe down a few and up one; it changes every time! I actually enjoyed waiting in line because it takes you through the basement of a faux hotel that the elevator is in, with all kinds of interesting stuff to look in.

Let me reiterate that Disney is not Six Flags or your other run-of-the-mill amusement park. Lines are not simply herds of people getting too much sun with nothing to look at but the other poor saps. Even the lines are an experience, taking you through interesting settings, different stages, and Disney does their best to maintain interest all the way from the point you step into line until you get off the ride. All the employees at each ride, for example, are dressed according to the theme of the ride. The line for The Tower of Terror winds you (if necessary) through amazingly well decorated portions of the faux hotel including gardens, an entry-way, and everything in between. To further this point even more, it’s time for lunch!

50's Diner Lunch at the 50’s Prime Time Caf